CASE has just published a report on universities’ performance in fundraising and alumni relations. It is a useful benchmarking study for participating institutions, and worthy of close study. It is a shame is that so few Australian universities take part.
Who participated and who did not?
To their credit, every Go8 university is participating in the CASE-Ross Survey, and 5 of the 8 New Zealand universities. Only 6 of 31 non-Go8 Australian universities put their figures forward for the period 2012-2014.
The full survey results are available to participants only, so there is no great risk of exposure. I admit some offices are so fledgling and under-resourced that they might have found participation very difficult. Still, it is an important discipline to put your figures forward alongside other institutions.
What does the report reveal?
The commentary released with the report points to an overall increase in giving over the three years of the survey. If 2014 was significantly down on 2013, it well up on 2012. The increases put forward are in:
- the number of contactable alumni
- the number of alumni giving,
- the number of gift commitments over $1million
In addition to these increases, it is worth noting that 61% of donors to universities are alumni. Is this a high number? Yes and No.
It is pleasing to note that 61% of donors are graduates. On the other hand, it is pleasing that nearly 40% of people who are donors have chosen to give to a university because of other reasons. Perhaps quality of the research, locality, personal affiliation with a staff member?
The single greatest shortcoming from the CASE-Ross survey lies in its American origins. CASE has an Orwellian “philanthropy good, government bad” approach to counting of fundraising results. So the work of Development Offices in encouraging government departments to fund chairs in transport research, medicine, finance, food security, defence studies, childhood safety, and many other areas counts for nothing in a CASE survey. Australia and New Zealand do not have the same view of government funding as the USA. Our Development Offices do secure discretionary allocations from government departments. Unfortunately, these results are not included in the CASE-Ross Survey.
It would be better if there were complete and transparent reporting of all activities and returns of university fundraising and alumni relations. Unfortunately, governments and vice-chancellors’ organisations in Australia and New Zealand have shown no interest in this. In the meantime, the CASE-Ross Survey is what we have and we should encourage full participation.
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